Parshas Balak 5757


The Meor V'Shemesh, Rebbi Kaloynmus Kalman Epstein, writes that once he was present when his Rebbe, Rebbi Elimelech of Lizensk asked his brother Rebbi Zusia of Anipoli a question. "My brother", asked R' Elimelech, "I see that you are able to perform miracles and wonders and awesome deeds. Perhaps I also could learn do the same?"

Reb Zusia answered, "When all the leaders of the generation and it's Tzaddikim are of one heart, in a common bond of love and friendship between themselves and the Jewish people, then anything can be accomplished."

R' Elimelech knew that his brother had spoken the truth and thanked him for his words, for he had taught him a fundamental axiom of Judaism.

The Talmud says, in Tr. Sanhedrin (71b), concerning a gathering of righteous men, "It is pleasant for them and pleasant for all of creation."

At this time explains the Meor V'Shemesh, Israel had attained a very high level of unity. Except for the 24,000 who were to die as a result of the their connection to idol worship, these were the people destined to settle Eretz Yisrael. Because of this unity, the mighty giant kings Sichon and Og fell before Yisrael, without even inflicting any casualties.

With this idea we can explain our Parsha. The Parsha says, "And Balak ben Tzipor saw all that Yisrael did to the Amorites." (Num 22:2) He saw, means that he understood. He understood that Jewish unity was the reason behind the strength of Yisrael. Because of that, "Moab was afraid before the (Jewish) people . . .". (22:3)

What did Balak, the King of Moab do? In response to Jewish unity he made a pact with his arch-enemy Midian to come out against Yisrael together. Then, he investigated further and found out that the strength of Israel in is the mouth, the power of Torah and Prayer. (Midrash Tanchuma Balak 3 and Rashi 22:4) To fight this he hired Bilaam to curse Am Yisrael.

But the husks only imitate the source of Holiness from which they stem. In truth all of Balak's efforts were in vain. The same passage from the Talmud above, Sanhedrin (71b), continues, "... it is pleasant for them and pleasant for the rest of creation. But woe is to the one who gathers together in the company of evil ones."

This also explains the use of the word Kahal (22:4). In the previous verse the Jewish people were called Am, a people. Now Balak calls them a Kahal, a people that gathered themselves together to forge unity. When there is Jewish unity, there is no force which do us harm.

May we all work for and experience Jewish unity.



Bilaam is described as "..shesoom ha'ayin". (Num. 24:3) He was blind in one eye. Even though his good eye was blessed with a tremendous power of insight, this insight was warped and miscolored by his own shortcomings.

R' Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch once related the following story.

When I was four years old, I asked my father: "Why did G-d make people with two eyes? Why not with one eye, just as we have been given a single nose and a single mouth?"

"Do you know the Alef-Beis?" asked father. "Yes", I replied.

"Then you know that there are two very similar Hebrew letters, the Shin and the Sin. Can you tell the difference between them?"

"The Shin has a dot on its right side, the Sin on its left," I answered.

"Well done", exclaimed father. "From this we learn that there are things which one must look upon with his right eye, with affection and empathy, and there are things which are to be looked upon with the left eye, with indifference and detachment."

"Upon a Siddur or on another Jew, one should look with the right eye. Upon a candy or toy, one should look with the left eye."


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